Tom McClintock on the Propositions

Representative Tom McClintock’s recommendations for the November 2014 California ballot propositions:

Prop 1 – Water Bond: YES. This is a long way from a perfect measure, but it’s as good as it gets in California these days: a $7.5 billion water bond that spends $2.7 billion for new water storage. If that sounds breathtakingly underwhelming, remember that’s $2.7 billion more than the multi-billions of dollars of water bonds that we’ve spent in recent years. Sadly, it doesn’t overhaul the environmental laws that vastly inflate costs and it squanders a great deal more that won’t be used for storage, but it is a step away from the lunacy of the green left (that adamantly opposes it) and this alone merits support.

Prop 2 – Stop Us Before We Screw Up Again: YES. This repeals Prop 58, a vat of Schwarzenegger snake-oil sold to voters as the panacea to the state’s budget woes. It wasn’t. (My I-told-you-so moment). Prop 58 promised an iron-clad reserve, but in reality, the governor could suspend it any time he wanted. He did. (Oops, I did it again). What I like most about Prop 2 is that to raid the required budget reserve, both the governor AND the legislature must agree and then, only for a specifically declared emergency. In a nutshell, it requires the legislature and governor to do what they did voluntarily during the Deukmejian era. Still plenty of loopholes, but better than what we have today.

Prop 45 – If You Thought Obamacare Was Bad: NO. This is a trial lawyers measure that give the state insurance commissioner the power to set health care rates. Sound good? Doctors and other health care providers are already opting out of Obamacare because of artificially low rates; this compounds the problem for California. The good news it you’ll have cheap health insurance. The bad news is you won’t have a lot of providers accepting it.

Prop 46 – If You Thought Prop 45 Was Bad: NO. Another trial lawyers measure that quadruples the amount they can get for pain and suffering awards. Prop. 45 means lower provider reimbursements and Prop. 46 means higher provider costs. It also requires drug testing for doctors, which is a stupid idea but I appreciate the poetic justice in making THEM pee into little cups for a change. Anyway, it won’t matter because your doctor will be out of state.

Prop 47 – Rose Bird’s Revenge: NO. We’ve gone overboard on some drug-related offenses, but this Proposition can only be described as a drug-induced hallucination. It reduces many grand-theft crimes to misdemeanors and would release an estimated 10,000 incarcerated criminals back on the streets. Basically, it is a burglar’s get-out-of-jail free card. Good news for alarm companies and the handful of 60’s radicals nostalgic for Rose Bird – bad news for the rest of us. Hide the silver.

Prop 48 – Freedom Works: YES. This ratifies Indian Gaming compacts for two tribes in economically depressed regions of the state that will be an economic boon to the struggling local communities there. It also cuts through environmental red tape that would otherwise delay these projects for years.

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The Farce

From VDH:

It was tragically comical that the commander in chief in just a few weeks could go from referring to ISIS as “jayvee” and a manageable problem to declaring it an existential threat, in the same manner he upgraded the Free Syrian Army from amateurs and a fantasy to our ground linchpin in the new air war. All that tragic comedy was a continuance of his previous untruths, such as the assurance that existing health plans and doctors would not change under the Affordable Care Act or that there was not a smidgeon of corruption at the IRS.

But lately the Obama confusion has descended into the territory not of tragedy or even tragic comedy, but rather of outright farce.

Last week we learned from the Washington Post that an investigator looking into the Secret Service prostitution scandal was ordered by the inspector general “to withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.” The “embarrassing” information was the allegation that a member of the White House staff advance team had solicited a prostitute while prepping Obama’s Colombia visit — a fact denied by then-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in April 2012, when he assured the press that no one from the White House was involved in the scandal that brought down lots of Secret Service and military personnel.

But here is where the farcical kicks in. The squelched investigation was focused on White House staffer Jonathan Dach. And who is Dach? He was at the time a young Yale law student and White House staffer, and is now a State Department activist working on — what else? — “Global Women’s Issues.”

And how did young Jonathan Dach at the ripe age of 25 years land such a prestigious job as a presidential advance man? His father, Leslie Dach, was a lobbyist who gave the Obama campaign $23,900 and was later hired on to work with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. And, of course, Leslie Dach now has left his job lobbying for Wal-Mart. And where does he work now? For the Obama administration. Promoting what? Obamacare.

Here is the essence of the Obama administration’s abyss between word and deed: in the age of the war on women and the end to lobbyists in government, the feminist young aide is alleged to have solicited a prostitute; the most transparent administration in memory covered that fact up during the reelection campaign; the president who promised to end the revolving door and ban lobbyists from government hired not just a one-percenter lobbyist and donor, but his randy son as well.

Can it get much richer than that? Unfortunately, it can — literally, as we’ll explore on the next page.

Recently, Barack Obama offered yet another fundraiser to his small circle of billionaires at the 20-acre gated estate of — again, this is no joke — Rich Richman. Some of Richy Rich’s bundled donors paid over $32,000 to see and touch Obama, who lectured the assembled Connecticut one percent of the one percent. And what did he lecture them on? Of course on “billionaires” and their mean war on the middle class.

Not long ago President Obama flew into Fresno, Ground Zero of the California drought. Did he offer federal help for more dam, canal, and reservoir construction? Hardly. Did he offer to help build coastal desalination plants? Nope.

Instead, he gave a brief lecture about global warming and offered $160 million in aid to ameliorate its effects, although almost all California climatologists associate the state’s unusual three-year drought with oceanic and atmospheric conditions unrelated to climate change, especially given the fact that the planet at large has not heated up in the last 18 years.

After briefly stopping in Fresno for a few hours, where did Barack Obama go next to emphasize the global-warming roots of our drought, and the irrelevancy of building more storage space to mitigate the atypical absence of snow and rain?

Naturally, he jetted in to see Jordan’s king at one of the most artificial environments in the world — verdant Rancho Mirage in the scorching Palm Springs area desert, an artificial landscape entirely irrigated through vast manmade water transfers via canals from the Colorado River. And why did Obama detour to such a landscape incongruous with the drought-stricken state? To play more golf, reminding us that while new reservoirs are not needed, and while burning carbon fuels is the culprit, golf courses in the middle of deserts are perfectly natural destinations for climate-change believers who arrive on huge jets to putt on irrigated greens for a few hours. Rumors then flew that Obama so liked Rancho Mirage’s drought-proof, irrigated attractions that he pondered retiring at a gated estate there.

Why such farce? We have forgotten two truths about the Obama administration. No president in recent memory has so hectored the American people on the dangers of elites, and no president in the last half-century has so enjoyed the perks and culture of the elite. Unfortunately, this is not just mindless hypocrisy, but rather calibrated medieval exemption: the more Barack Obama berates the high life of others, the more he feels he deserves it for himself.

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The Warning Trumpet

From David Solway:

A little while back, leaving the local “swimming hole” frequented by residents and summer tourists, I noticed a large group of dark-clad visitors sitting in a circle and solemnly keeping what appeared to be a meditative vigil. They had occupied a considerable space where others would normally pass on their way to one of the promontories leading to the river. They were obviously Muslims, probably an extended family, conspicuously observing the traditions of their native culture and, oblivious to their surroundings and the people who had to detour by an arduous route around them, preparing no doubt to face the Qiblah (direction to Mecca) and to devote themselves to prayer.

Just the other day, I had a similar experience. Since there are no facilities at the beach, swimmers often change out of their bathing suits into street clothes beside their cars, shielded by towels held by friends and intimates or strung between the open doors of their vehicles, an operation conducted in an atmosphere of courtesy defined by a mutual and studied disregard. I was assisting my wife in this delicate maneuver when three Muslim men emerged from the trail giving onto the parking lot. Soon they were trying to stare over and between the towels, mesmerized by the partially hidden lure of a woman in semi-undress. My wife had to enter the car and slide low into the front seat while I glared indignantly at the intruders. Then, as I was about to confront them — the odds were not in my favor, but so be it — they moved aside and, after a few moments, spread carpets on the grass margin a few yards away and ritually prostrated themselves in prayer — close enough that I had to be careful when backing the car out.

It was not violence, but it was a violation, a transgression of the norm, remarked by several others in the parking lot who were struck by so blatant an infringement of both common decency and shared space. These men clearly did not realize or, more likely, did not care that they were contravening the tacit agreement of reciprocal discretion that prevailed among us, whether friend or stranger. They were animated by a robust and incontestable sense of their own priority, a conviction of privilege that need not take into consideration the cultural usages and social expectations of those they had come to live among. The same goes for the band of votaries blocking a public route, heedless of the inconvenience caused.

Such behavior is patently different from the Muslim-inspired havoc and thuggery erupting in Canadian cities like Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, or in the municipal war zones of many European cities with sizeable Muslim populations. But it was nevertheless a visible presumption of specialness and of indifference to the conventions of ordinary civility.

Every immigrant group in this country has variously adapted to the heritage culture, integrating more or less seamlessly by the second generation. However, second-generation Muslims are increasingly being radicalized, some going off to fight with jihadist militias in the Middle East and Africa, others plotting terror attacks on the very country that has offered them freedom, health care, education and the opportunity to prosper.

The common denominator along this spectrum of cultural invasiveness is the sentiment of vested ascendancy and pre-eminence minus the obligation of having to earn them. It bespeaks the spirit of natural entitlement that goes hand in hand with Islam, and which is instinct throughout the Muslim holy book, in which the true believer is exalted as superior to all other people (see, e.g., Koran 3:110) and enjoined to conquer, enslave, tax and slay the kafir, or infidel, who rejects the dominion of the Prophet (see, e.g., Koran 4:89, 9:29, 33:50, 47:4, among numberless other ayat). The violence we have seen both everywhere in the Muslim world and everywhere immigrant Muslims reach a certain critical census in their host societies is the inevitable consequence of the inherent conviction of higher status and mandated predominance — even in comparatively innocuous situations like a ring of Muslims commandeering a public venue or three obtrusive men breaching without the slightest compunction or embarrassment a local standard of behavioral propriety.

“They feel entitled,” writes Daniel Greenfield, “that everything be done according to their cultural expectations.” Greenfield is referring to a group of Muslim asylum-seekers in the Italian hamlet of La Secca who have staged a demonstration, replete with flying furniture and slashed tires, to protest the cultural trauma of having to eat “monotonous” Italian food, a culinary insult of pasta with tomato sauce, bread and eggs, instead of being served the food of their own countries. A police official was not impressed. “There are thousands of Italians living in poverty and who aren’t even eating one meal a day, let alone two or three,” he said. The Muslim migrants were not impressed either; they demanded their due, a right pertaining to their faith and very being. Greenfield’s conclusion is apt: “They aren’t immigrating. They’re colonizing.” This is not only Italy’s problem. Think Norway, Sweden, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK.

How, some of us on this side of the Atlantic have begun to ask, have these people with their baggage of noisome and culturally vetted proclivities come to be among us? For years we have taken no notice, content to embrace the sedatives and platitudes of multiculturalism, until a moment comes when we are abruptly made aware and taken aback by an alien and unaccommodating presence, one that has been metastasizing for decades while we voluntarily turned a blind eye.

Even our officials in sensitive positions of power have surrendered their faculties of judgment and acuity to the subtle techniques of disinformation plied by Islamic propagandists. Of course, many, if not most, of our authorities are unforgivably ignorant about the movement they are dealing with, never having delved into the relevant texts, documents and scriptures, an intellectual crater that goes some way to explaining how the piquantly named “intelligence community” — CSIS, for example, the Canadian version of the CIA, and no less inept — could partner with Islamic organizations to promote current shibboleths like “understanding” and “good will” — euphemisms for appeasement and expressions of the social gospel of moral equivalence. Islamic colonization proceeds at all levels of national existence, from the domestic and parochial to the administrative and ministerial.

As Melanie Phillips in a recent talk pointed out, recycling a friend’s analogy, there is a tunneling factor at work on the model of Hamas. The tunnels stretch under the soil of another country and, suddenly, the terrorists “pop up,” seemingly out of nowhere. Phillips is scrupulous to clarify that she is not alluding to Muslim immigration as an overt military scheme carried out by bloodthirsty extremists, but the metaphor of Islam tunneling its way surreptitiously into and under the cultural terrain of Western civilization holds. In the words of Swiss parliamentarian Oskar Freysinger, Islam is “a dogma that is gnawing away at the pillars of our system of laws” — laws, we might add, both written and unspoken.

The two episodes with which I began this article may be regarded by many as trivial or minor; after all, coarse, aggressive or antisocial behavior is by no means exclusive to any single category of people. Still, during the three summers I have been visiting this stretch of the St. Lawrence, before eventually deciding to move here, these were the only times I have met with such assured intrusiveness — as if blithely incommoding others by occupying a communal space, or engaging in a show of public lasciviousness, were an unquestioned right, as if, in other words, the rights or prerogatives of others simply did not count.

I cite these occasions chiefly because they are of recent vintage, because they occurred in a rural area with little (though growing) experience of Islamic immigration, and because they are indicative phenomena, handsels of a future whose ramifications are starkly disquieting. Plainly, the events I recount are not in the same class of atrocities as having your head sawed off in the suburbs of London by a fanatic Muslim, as recently happened to an 82-year old woman tending her garden, and earlier to off-duty soldier Lee Rigby, but they are harbingers of an ideological and theological mindset that will inescapably manifest itself in this and other socially virulent forms. Indeed, I have had innumerable brushes over time, both personally and as a witness, with instances [6] of Islamic cultural expropriation, far too many to relate here. Some of these occasions were relatively serious: menacing phone calls following selected articles I wrote for this site as well as others, unsavory emails, and a physical assault by a traveling Palestinian who discovered that I was Jewish. I consider these incidents as merely part of my trade or, for that matter, as a function of my ethnic identity in a hostile and irrational world.

Nonetheless, what I find truly offensive as a citizen of a Western democratic state is the unwillingness of a substantial immigrant cohort to assimilate into the modes, manners and practices of the country that has graciously received it, but rather to insist that the host conform to the guest and accept his established views and rooted premises. Such people, fixed in their chronic orthodoxies, will not abandon their imported attitudes and presuppositions where these conflict with the staple usages of the majority. They refuse to monitor their fractious offspring seduced by the temptation of jihad (and to cease feigning astonishment when their treasonable acts come to light), to repudiate entirely the fraudulent and lethal notion of collective “honor” that bleeds into violence and guilty concealment, to stop treating women as servants and sexual commodities validated by the prescriptions of scripture or the assumptions of a primitive ethnology, and in general to respect the values of everyday conduct, legitimate assembly and consensual decency that enable a society to preserve its settled way of life.

Anyone with a modicum of perceptiveness must be cognizant by now that Islam is advancing its millennial agenda in two ways, that is, via a classic pincer movement: the tactic of terrorism, and the strategy of immigration as elaborated by the Muslim Brotherhood, the latter project an immensely powerful force owing to its stealthy and insidious nature, abetted by leftist and liberal sympathies and policies. By this time its cover should have been blown, and we must begin to speak out, to agitate for legislation to revise our immigration protocols, to reject outright the social camouflage of political correctness, to expose “outreach” and “interfaith” programs for the confidence games they are, to investigate the hotbed mosques spreading like bunkers throughout the land, and to lobby our congressional and parliamentary representatives to pass laws militating against the depletion of our welfare resources, the exploitation of our legal system to silence critics of Islam (known as “lawfare”), and the use of our human rights tribunals that deprive us of our…human rights.

It is obviously an uphill battle, not less because our politicians and political parties, themselves responsible for the immigration debacle, are deliberately trawling for votes among the burgeoning Muslim enclaves and boroughs. Yet it is equally obvious that failing such a reformation — or revolution — in our concessionary attitudes, the result will be that what we once took for granted as a social habitus founded on mutual recognition and a civic arena accessible to all will shrink to an uneasy and perhaps soon intolerable confinement in our own domain.

There is no longer any excuse for apathy, distraction or ignorance, for the evidence of our approaching dispossession is all around us. It is equally an affront and a tragedy to find ourselves colonized in our own land. To paraphrase the prophet Ezekiel (33: 2-6), those who hear the sound of the warning trumpet and do not take the warning, their blood shall be upon them. Regrettably, far too many of us still cannot or do not or will not hear the trumpet.

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Goodbye, my little boy

So this is where we part, My Friend,
And you’ll run on, around the bend,
Gone from sight, but not from mind,
New pleasures there you’ll surely find.

I will go on, I’ll find the strength,
Life measures quality, not its length.
One long embrace before you leave,
Share one last look, before I grieve.

There are others, that much is true,
But they be they, and they aren’t you.
And I, fair, impartial, or so I thought,
Will remember well all you’ve taught.

Your place I’ll hold, you will be missed,
The fur I stroked, the nose I kissed.
And as you journey to your final rest,
Take with you this…I loved you best.

– Jim Willis

Untruth, Inc.

From VDH:

We can usefully view the Obama administration’s chronic untruthfulness as a sort of multifaceted corporation of untruth, with all sorts of subsidiaries.

THE BALD LIES OF POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY
Remember the al-Qaeda-is-on-the-run 2012-election talking point? It was mostly a lie. The administration deliberately released to sympathetic journalists only those documents from the so-called Osama bin Laden trove that revealed worry and dissension among the terrorists. Then it nourished essays by pet journalists trumpeting the decline of al-Qaeda. Disturbing memos that confounded that narrative, as Weekly Standard journalist Steven F. Hayes recently noted, were kept back. “On the run” was dropped after the 2012 election, when events on the ground made such an assertion absurd.

Recent disclosures by some of the combatants about the night of the Benghazi attack remind us that almost everything Jay Carney, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama swore in the aftermath of the debacle was knowingly false. A video did not cause the attack. The rioting was not spontaneous. A video-maker, an American resident, was soon jailed, while one of the suspected killers was giving taped interviews at a coffee house in Benghazi. There were ways of securing the consulate and the annex that were not explored, both before and during the assault. Talking points were altered. Again, the catalyst for untruth was reelection worries by an administration that believes its exalted ends of social justice allow any means necessary for reaching them.

Has anything the administration said about pulling our troops out of Iraq proven true? Was it really the Iraqis’ fault or George Bush’s? Was our leaving proof that Iraq might be one of the administration’s “great achievements”? Was the Iraq that we left without any peacekeepers really “stable”? On more than ten occasions the president bragged on the campaign trail that he alone had ended American involvement in Iraq. When Iraq predictably blew up after our departure, he snarled to reporters that he was angry that anyone would dare accuse him alone of being responsible for our precipitate departure.

Was there any element of “reset” with Russia that was accurate? Obama came into office lambasting the prior administration for alienating Russia — when all it had done was adopt some rather moderate measures to punish Russia for invading Georgia. Reset, in truth, was a remission of punishments — from missile defense with the Czechs and Poles to cut-offs of some high-level negotiations — and thus served as a signal to Putin and his subordinates that Obama believed America had been wrong to react to Georgia. And we know what followed from that.

LIES TO HIDE WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
On issues where the public is at odds with the administration, the Obama team too often makes things up to hide its isolation. Little the administration has stated about the IRS scandal has proven true. It was not a slip-up in one local office; nor were liberal groups equally targeted. There was quite a bit more than a “smidgen” of corruption. The administration’s strategy was to make so many things up that the public got confused and the matter went away. The corruption worked to defang the Tea Party in 2012, and the cover-up — except for fall woman Lois Lerner, who took the Fifth Amendment — worked even better.

Have any of the statements the administration has presented about our southern border proven true? Do we know how many people have recently crossed into the United States illegally, what exactly U.S. immigration policy is, or where exactly foreign nationals are and what are their statuses? The public polls strongly against lax borders and blanket amnesties, so the administration apparently must deceive to permit both — and in a politically disingenuous fashion of postponing the requisite executive orders until after the 2014 midterm elections, while blaming the delay on the crisis on the border that it caused.

Did much of anything prove accurate about the Affordable Care Act? Costs, keeping our doctors and existing plans, the effect on the deficit, the website? Had the president in 2008 outlined honestly the ACA’s provisions, he would never have gotten elected, or had he by 2012 fully implemented them, he would never have gotten reelected. Lying about Obamacare and demonizing any who objected were smart politics, but the president will never regain the trust of those whose premiums spiked, who lost their coverage and their doctors, and who still do not understand what exactly Obamacare is.

MYTHOGRAPHY
Most of the assertions uttered in the 2009 Cairo speech were untrue, from false claims about Islamic achievement to supposed Islamic tolerance during the Inquisition in Córdoba — at a time when there were no Muslims in Córdoba. Emperor Hirohito no more surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur than George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and FDR were in office when their respective wars ended and they supposedly agreed to prisoner exchanges — or than Barack Obama’s grandfather helped to free Auschwitz. Obama sees history in the same postmodernist fashion in which he looks upon his own past — details are constructed by everyone, and thus truth is a relative concept that should not be adjudicated by those with privilege against those who are using narratives to advance social justice. The result is that almost any time the president makes reference to the past, ours or his, we can assume two things: His facts are wrong, and they are wrong in a way that is meant to highlight his own godhead.

AMNESIA
There are lots of things that Obama says that he knows will simply fade into oblivion. Did we ever believe that Joe Biden was going to bird-dog abuses in spending for the stimulus to ensure shovel-ready jobs? Did we really believe that Obama would halve the deficit by the end of his first term — or that he would close Guantanamo Bay? Did he really obtain congressional approval for bombing Libya, as he once promised for such operations? Did anyone believe that the Obama administration would not hire former lobbyists or that it would end the revolving door, any more than we believed Obama’s assurances that those who made less than $250,000 would not have any of their taxes go up? What exactly is an Obama step-over line, red line, or deadline? Obama’s serial rhetorical emphatics — Let me be perfectly clear, Make no mistake about it, In point of fact, You can take that to the bank, I’m not kidding, I’m not making this up — are the usual verbal tics that warn the audience that a complete untruth is to follow.

SCAPEGOATING
Then there is another sort of untruth summed up best as blame-gaming — “They did it, not me!” The president confessed to having no strategy to deal with the Islamic State. But that was the fault of the Pentagon for not yet formulating any. The Islamic State had crept up on us — and that was the fault of the intelligence services. The world is in chaos? The new social networking — the much-bragged-about hip keystone of Obama’s two election campaigns — is to blame for making the gullible believe the world is falling apart. The president had to remove every last soldier from Iraq — but he didn’t really do that; it was either Bush or Maliki. The president ignored his own red lines in Syria? But they weren’t his own: The U.N., not he, made them. The president dubbed the Islamic State the jayvees? No, he actually meant an array of groups.

Such blame-gaming is simply the current foreign-policy manifestation of a long-established Obama-administration trait of blaming dismal news on something other than its own policies: ATMs were responsible for high joblessness; the stimulus failed, but House obstructionism was to blame. The Republican House also blocked immigration reform — which Obama easily could have passed when the Democrats controlled the Congress in 2009–10. Tsunamis and earthquakes, including a mild tremor in D.C. itself, rattled the economy and contributed to the discouraging economic statistics. Bad GDP news? The American people had gotten a bit “soft” and lost “their competitive edge.”

REDACTED
Sometimes there are lies by omission. The administration is simply incapable of uttering the phrases “radical Islam” or “Islamic terrorism,” and that fact requires all sorts of lying by omission about who exactly is killing Americans and why. So we are serially told that the Muslim Brotherhood is largely secular, that workplace violence caused Fort Hood, that jihad is largely a personal journey, that the idea of terrorists creating a caliphate is absurd, and all the other euphemisms necessary to hide the apparently unpleasant truth of killing by radical Islamists.

As far as the VA, AP, IRS, NSA, and other scandals go, do not count on any confession, investigation, lawsuit, or special prosecutor to reveal the truth in the next two years. The Obama administration will lose documents, redact critical information, find e-mails only years later, and lie about evidence until most of its members are safely out of office and working for Citigroup, one of the major TV networks, or Goldman Sachs.

Obama’s prevaricating has lost him any thought of a legacy, all the more so because for years as a candidate and as president he pontificated about his new transparency and the need for executive candor — itself an untruth at best, and at worst a cynical ploy to provide cover for a deliberate effort to enact policies that could not be honestly presented to the American people.

The two fuels that run Untruth, Inc., are, first, a realization that most of the president’s policies, whether deliberately or as a result of indifference and laziness, run counter to what most Americans support, and, second, a media establishment so invested in his agenda that it will not call the administration to account. So the engine of lying keeps humming. On any given day the president of the United States can step up to the teleprompter amid the latest disaster and swear that he did not do what he just did, or insist that someone else, not he, did the dastardly deed, or simply skip over recent history and make things up. The press at first quibbles, then nods in agreement, and Obama is empowered to do it again and again. We have not seen such a disingenuous president since Richard Nixon — but he, at least, was countered rather than enabled by the media.

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The Shallowness of Demographic Symbolism

From Thomas Sowell:

The latest Gallup poll indicates that 14 percent of the people “moderately disapprove” of Barack Obama’s performance as president and 39 percent “strongly disapprove.”

Since Obama won two presidential elections, chances are that some of those who now “strongly disapprove” of what he has done voted to put him in office. We all make mistakes, but the real question is whether we learn from them.

With many people now acting as if it is time for “a woman” to become president, apparently they have learned absolutely nothing from the disastrous results of the irresponsible self-indulgence of choosing a President of the United States on the basis of demographic characteristics, instead of individual qualifications.

It would not matter to me if the next five presidents in a row were all women, if these happened to be the best individuals available at the time. But to say that we should now elect “a woman” president in 2016 is to say that we are willfully blind to the dangers of putting life and death decisions in the hands of someone chosen for symbolic reasons.

If we were to choose just “a woman” as our next president, would that mean that any criticism of that president would be considered to be a sign of being against women?

No public official should be considered to be above criticism — and the higher up that official is, the more important it is to hold his or her feet to the fire when it comes to carrying out duties involving the life and death of individuals and the fate of the nation.

We have not yet had a Jewish president. If and when we do, does that mean that any criticism of that individual should be stigmatized and dismissed as anti-Semitism? What of our first Italian American president, our first Asian American president?

Human beings of every background are imperfect creatures. When they are in a position high enough for their imperfections to bring disasters to more than 300 million Americans, the last thing we need is to stifle criticism of what they do.

It is by no means guaranteed that this country will survive the long-run consequences of the disastrous decisions already made by Barack Obama, especially his pretense of stopping Iran’s becoming a nuclear power. Obama may no longer be in office when those chickens come home to roost.

If we wake up some morning and find some American city in radioactive ruins, will we connect the dots and see this as a consequence of voting to elect an unknown and untried man, for the sake of racial symbolism?

Among those who look around for someone to blame, how many will look in the mirror?

Presidents already have too much insulation from criticism — and from reality.

When President Calvin Coolidge caught everyone by surprise in 1928, by announcing that he would not run for reelection, despite a prosperous economy and his own personal popularity, he simply said, “I do not choose to run.” Coolidge was a man of very few words, despite his knowledge of multiple languages. Someone once said that Coolidge could be silent in five different languages.

But, when he later wrote a small autobiography, Coolidge explained the inherent dangers in the office of President of the United States, especially when one person remains in the White House too long.

“It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshippers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness.

“They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.”

Of presidents who served eight years in office, he said, “in almost every instance” the last years of their terms show little “constructive accomplishments” and those years are often “clouded with grave disappointments.”

Another president chosen for demographic representation (whether by race, sex or whatever), and further insulated from criticism and from reality, is the last thing we need.

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The Madness of 2008

“Perhaps [Barack Obama's] greatest achievement has been running as a candidate with an image wholly incompatible with what he has actually been doing for decades. This man, who is now supposedly going to “unite” us, has for years worked hand in glove, and contributed both his own money and the taxpayers’ money, to people who have sought to divide us in the most crude, demagogic ways.”
— Thomas Sowell, 2008

America, we told you so:

America is suddenly angry at the laxity, incompetence, and polarizing politics of the Obama administration, the bad optics of the president putting about in his bright golf clothes while the world burns. Certainly, no recent president has failed on so many fronts — honesty, transparency, truthfulness, the economy, foreign policy, the duties of the commander-in-chief, executive responsibilities, and spiritual leadership.

For those who are “shocked” at the present meltdown, of a magnitude not seen since the annus horribilis of 1979, in their defense: Obama certainly did not campaign on a new health-care plan that would force Americans to give up the doctors they liked and their existing coverage, while raising premiums and deductibles, while giving exemptions for insiders and cronies, and while raising the deficit.

Nor did we hear on the campaign trail that Obama would push gay marriage, open borders, near-permanent zero interest rates, six consecutive $1 trillion deficits, and record food-stamp and Social Security disability payouts. He criticized Bush for relatively minor executive orders, suggesting that he would never rule by fiat — as he since has done in matters of Obamacare, immigration law, and environmental regulations. Remember the promise of ending the revolving door and stopping aides from cashing in — and then follow the post-administration careers of Obama’s closest advisers.

Obama promised to halve the deficit — not run up more red ink than almost all prior presidents combined. Indeed, he once as a senator voted against raising the debt limit and blasted Bush for borrowing from China. He once sermonized to us that the presidency is serious stuff, that it entails inordinate personal sacrifice and even a virtual absence of downtime and vacation — and then he became just the sort of president he was critiquing. But those deceptions were simply politics as usual, and it was logical for the hard leftist Barack Obama to try to appear to be a moderate, given that no Northern liberal had won the presidency in the half-century since John F. Kennedy.

The antidote to the great madness of 2008 would have been, instead of focusing on what Obama claimed or hedged, simply to recall what he had done before he ran for president and to notice what he did during the campaign. Had America done that, there would never have been a President Obama to surprise us now.

The racial animosity characterized by Obama’s editorializing about Skip Gates, Trayvon Martin, and, now, the Ferguson, Mo., hysteria, or his call to Latinos to “punish our enemies,” or the tenure of Eric Holder is simply a continuation of 2008’s “typical white person,” the clingers speech, Michelle Obama’s America as “just downright mean,” “They raise the bar,” and “For the first time . . . I’m really proud of my country” commentaries, and of Obama’s earlier boast that he never missed services at the Trinity Church of the hate-mongering and anti-Semitic Reverend Jeremiah Wright. If Obama had not proved to be a racial divider, we should have been surprised — given what we learned of his past in 2008. After all, it’s from Jeremiah Wright that Barack Obama got the title for his campaign brief, “The Audacity of Hope.”

We are now shocked at the current spate of alphabetic scandals — IRS, AP, NSA, VA. But why are we surprised, given that Obama never told the truth about his relationships with the old terrorist Bill Ayers and former PLO ad hoc spokesman Rashid Khalidi, or about the creepy land deal with the crook Tony Rezko? If the Obama White House demonized the Tea Party as tea-baggers, or compared the Republican House opposition to terrorists and arsonists, why should we be astonished, given how he was elected to the U.S. Senate? Quite mysteriously, his primary opponent, Blair Hull, and his general-election opponent, Jack Ryan, both of whom were favored to win, had their confidential divorce records leaked. Their campaigns subsequently imploded.

Obama has played fast and loose with ethical rules, from promoting crony capitalists to attending near-constant fundraisers among the pay-to-play 0.0001 percent. Again, why should we be surprised, given that he was the first presidential candidate who refused in a general election to accept federal campaign financing, with its accompanying rules curbing mega-fundraising? Obama was the largest recipient of Goldman Sachs donations in the company’s history, and raised more cash in 2008 and 2012 than any other presidential candidate in history.

We are terrified of the chaos that is spreading across the world: Egypt, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Putin’s Russia, and the Chinese–Japanese tensions. But was there any evidence in 2008 that rookie senator Obama had any foreign-policy experience or even knowledge of the world beyond Chicago, other than as a boy in Indonesia or a teen on a jaunt with buddies to Pakistan? We knew in 2008 that his opportunistic trashing of Guantánamo, renditions, tribunals, drones, and preventive detention was permitted only by the fact that the Bush–Cheney protocols he was criticizing had prevented another 9/11-like attack — and thus gave him the leeway of easy second-guessing. If we are now worried about Obama’s equivocation, there was plenty of evidence, as Hillary Clinton pointed out in 2008, that Obama as a state legislator had voted “Present” as a matter of habit.

Polarization? Partisanship? The National Journal warned us in 2008 that Obama was the most partisan of the 100 U.S. senators. Did we assume that he would revert to something that he never had been?

Critics are angry that Obama seems disengaged, or that as a man of the people he is inordinately obsessed with golf, a sport that the Left used to despise as a fixation of the rich in their lime-green pants and bright pink polo shirts. But again, can we point to any landmark legislation that Obama accomplished as a state legislator or U.S. senator? Was not Obama golfing during the 2008 campaign?

Then there is the matter of the presidential untruths. The problem is not just that Barack Obama says things that are untrue but that he lies about what Barack Obama has said. He brags that he set red lines, but then he says it was the U.N. had set red lines. He boasts of pulling out every U.S. soldier from Iraq but then alleges that President Bush, the Iraqis, or Maliki did that. He claims that ISIS are Jayvees but then claims they are serious. But his prevarication too is habitual and was known in 2008 when it was discovered that he had simply misled the nation about his relationships with Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers. He had no desire, in the transparent manner of John Kerry, Al Gore, John McCain, or George W. Bush, to release his medical records or college transcripts. If Americans find their president ill-informed, there was no record that he was informed in 2008. His gaffes were far more frequent than those of Sarah Palin, who knew there were 50 states.

Historians will look back at 2008 as a time when the country became more or less collectively unhinged. There was an accompanying perfect storm of sorts: He was the first serious African-American candidate, whom condescending liberals like Harry Reid and Joe Biden heralded for being clean, light-skinned, and without a black patois; he was running in an orphaned election without an incumbent vice president or president on the other side’s ticket, a situation not seen since 1952; we had an unpopular lame-duck president and the Iraq war; the sudden financial meltdown in September 2008 caused a then-behind Obama to immediately surge ahead; the McCain campaign was lackluster; and the media became an advocate of the Obama effort.

Pundits vied for superlatives. On little evidence, Christopher Buckley assured us that Obama possessed “a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect.” For some, proof of Obama’s godhead became almost physical — a “perfectly creased pant” for David Brooks, a tingling leg for Chris Matthews. For Evan Thomas he was a “sort of God”; for one blue-chip historian he was the smartest man with the highest IQ ever running for the presidency. And on and on, as huge crowds acted as if they were watching Paul McCartney on tour in 1966. After the election, there was real apprehension that the country might not make it for the two and a half months until an elected Obama could take power.

Given that there was no evidence from Obama’s legislative career to justify such superlatives, we can only assume that our intellectual elites got caught up in the faux Greek columns, the Obama tutorials for fainting crowds about proper first aid, the teleprompted emphatics of “Let me be perfectly clear” and “Make no mistake about it,” the Latinate motto “Vero possumus” on the faux presidential seal on his campaign podiums, the boast that Obama & Co. were “the ones we’ve been waiting for,” the messianic promise to cool the planet and lower the seas, the Lincoln self-comparisons, and the other embarrassing childish banalities.

Obama, it is true, ran a brilliant campaign in 2008, hinting to the Other that as a non-white he shared both their racial bona fides and their frustrations, hinting to white elites that his own unique heritage would end racial hostilities and thus allow them to square the circle of living largely separate elite lives and not having to feel guilty about it. He dropped his g’s and went into Southern cadences among African Americans, and then back again into wonkish academese to mainstream whites. It was well known that in impromptu talks he stuttered and stumbled with uh’s in deer-in-the-headlights fashion, and used the pronouns I, me, my, and mine ad nauseam, but such unease was ignored given his teleprompted eloquence and the considerable elite investment in his symbolism.

In sum, in 2008 Obama gave America more than enough evidence to doubt that he was ready for the presidency, but when a nation becomes unhinged by trivialities like “hope and change,” there is not much one can do — until the patient wakes up from his trance and in embarrassment asks, “What exactly was all that nuttiness in 2008 about?”

We will be fathoming that strange madness of 2008 for decades to come.

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